BARRISTER'S BRIEFING: Being a Professional

Brian Levine | July 2020

Brian Levine, Esq.

As the HGAR Professional Standards Administrator, I often get calls and e-mails from members of the public and/or Realtors looking to file a complaint against a Realtor who is acting unethically. Usually, after a lengthy discussion, it’s revealed that the Realtor being complained about isn’t acting unethically, they’re simply acting unprofessionally. Topping the list of unprofessional actions: being rude and yelling at people.

Often Realtors are not portrayed in the kindest light, often ranking up there with lawyers and used car salesmen. That image is propagated by agents acting unprofessionally. Interestingly, years ago NAR began to take notice of this problem and created the “Pathways to Professionalism;” a list of professional courtesies intended to be used by Realtors on a voluntary basis. They are simple, thoughtful, and beneficial to all and I feel that this list can go a long way in creating a positive rapport with clients, other agents, and the public.

Because of the pressures imposed by the current state of affairs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and raised social concerns, common courtesies and professionalism is suffering in our industry. Therefore, I thought this would be the perfect time to introduce, or re-introduce as the case may be, these important tips. As a final note, some of these suggestions may be inapplicable at the present time (i.e. showings of occupied homes, etc.); however, they should be utilized in the future. Enjoy.

Pathways to Professionalism

Respect for the Public

1. Follow the “Golden Rule”—Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

2. Respond promptly to inquiries and requests for information.

3. Schedule appointments and showings as far in advance as possible.

4. Call if you are delayed or must cancel an appointment or showing.

5. If a prospective buyer decides not to view an occupied home, promptly explain the situation to the listing broker or the occupant.

6. Communicate with all parties in a timely fashion.

7. When entering a property, ensure that unexpected situations, such as pets, are handled appropriately.

8. Leave your business card if not prohibited by local rules.

9. Never criticize a property in the presence of the occupant.

10. Inform occupants that you are leaving after showings.

11. When showing an occupied home, always ring the doorbell or knock—and announce yourself loudly—before entering. Knock and announce yourself loudly before entering any closed room.

12. Present a professional appearance at all times; dress appropriately and drive a clean car.

13. If occupants are home during showings, ask their permission before using the telephone or bathroom.

14. Encourage the clients of other brokers to direct questions to their agent or representative.

15. Communicate clearly; don’t use jargon or slang that may not be readily understood.

16. Be aware of and respect cultural differences.

17. Show courtesy and respect to everyone.

18. Be aware of—and meet—all deadlines.

19. Promise only what you can deliver—and keep your promises.

20. Identify your Realtors and your professional status in contacts with the public.

21. Do not tell people what you think—tell them what you know.

Respect for Property

1. Be responsible for everyone you allow to enter a listed property.

2. Never allow buyers to enter a listed property unaccompanied.

3. When showing a property, keep all members of the group together.

4. Never allow unaccompanied access to a property without permission.

5. Enter a property only with permission even if you have a lockbox key or combination.

6. When the occupant is absent, leave the property as you found it (lights, heating, cooling, drapes, etc.). If you think something is amiss (e.g., vandalism) contact the listing broker immediately.

7. Be considerate of the seller’s property. Do not allow anyone to eat, drink, smoke, dispose of trash, use bathing or sleeping facilities or bring pets. Leave the house as you found it unless instructed otherwise.

8. Use sidewalks; if weather is bad, take off shoes and boots inside the property.

9. Respect sellers’ instructions about photographing or video graphing their properties’ interiors or exteriors.

Respect for Peers

1. Identify your Realtor and professional status in all contacts with other Realtors.

2. Respond to other agents’ calls, faxes, and e-mails promptly and courteously.

3. Be aware that large electronic files with attachments or lengthy faxes may be a burden on recipients.

4. Notify the listing broker if there appears to be inaccurate information on the listing.

5. Share important information about a property, including the presence of pets, security systems and whether sellers will be present during the showing.

6. Show courtesy, trust and respect to other real estate professionals.

7. Avoid the inappropriate use of endearments or other denigrating language.

8. Do not prospect at other Realtors’ open houses or similar events.

9. Return keys promptly.

10. Carefully replace keys in the lockbox after showings.

11. To be successful in the business, mutual respect is essential.

12. Real estate is a reputation business. What you do today may affect your reputation—and business—for years to come.

Conclusion

We should all strive to be better agents and the Pathway to Professionalism is a great guideline for all Realtors to use and, before I conclude, I would like to contribute a few “obvious” additional suggestions myself:

• Be kind. You don’t know what someone else is going through.

• Don’t swear. It only diminishes your respectability.

• Act with integrity. Once lost, it’s nearly impossible to regain.

• Don’t raise your voice. Just because you’re the loudest, doesn’t make you right.

• Listen before speaking. As the saying goes, “You have two ears and one mouth.”

• Don’t lie. Lies will always find their way back to you.

• Don’t cheat. Cheating will only diminish your moral character.

• Don’t steal. It’s a crime. Nothing more needs to be said.

• Find middle ground in discussions. Identify things you agree upon before you address things you disagree upon.

• And finally, one that was told to me when I was young…always act as if your parents are standing next to you. Would you make them proud? If not, rethink it.

Brian Levine
Brian S. Levine, Esq. is In-House Counsel/Director of Legal Services & Professional Standards Administrator for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.